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My Fathers' Ghost Is Climbing in the Rain Hardcover – 21 May 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group (21 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307700682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307700681
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2.4 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,270,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This is a thoughtful (and semi-autobiographical) mediation on what a generation that has largely given up on struggle and resistance owes to its parents. (The Herald)

How we are haunted by the pain of the past is the powerful theme at the heart of this moving meditation on trauma, memory, and home, beautifully translated from Spanish by Mara Faye Lethem ... This poetic, atmospheric novel is filled with symbolic images: of relentless rain; of being lost in a dark forest ... It's through excavating tiny details that Pron reaches universal truths... This philosophical novel, which probes the thorniest of ontological and epistemological questions, compellingly displays - as well as explores - fiction's power to unearth the most deeply buried emotional truths. (Anita Sethi The Independent)

Named one of Granta's best young Spanish-language novelists in 2010, Argentine writer Patricio Pron's British debut, My Fathers' Ghost Is Climbing In The Rain (Faber), is a fictionalised account of 'mostly true' events whose slow-to-build impact is deeply affecting ... the closing sober telling of his parents' terrible experiences amasses power from its sad sparseness. (Metro)

Pron handles the past of Argentina with subtle tones through a family story ...

recent books by Lhosa ,Marquez ,Cercas and Goytisolo have all looked at the recent past with honest eyes and breadth like My Fathers' Ghost is Climbing in the Rain does. Pron's book evokes the past in the present and is wonderfully held together in English by the translator Lethem.

(Winstonsdad's Blog) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

My Fathers' Ghost is Climbing in the Rain by Patricio Pron is the stunning debut from one of Granta's Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 17 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback
(4.5 stars) In this affecting and unusual metafictional novel, Patricio Pron describes his sudden return to Argentina in 2008, for the first time in eight years. Pron had left his home in El Trebol to work at becoming a writer in Europe. Now his father is ill, and though the family has not been close, he immediately returns home. What follows is a dramatic tale of fathers and sons, an examination of time and memory, a study of people who believe that a life without principles is not worth living, and a memory of good people who have been so traumatized by events from another time that they have little common ground for communication with other generations.

The speaker grew up during the 1970s, during which the military overthrew Juan Peron and installed a military dictatorship, but as a child, he was naïve to the horrors of their rule as they "cleansed" the country of all democratic and socialist elements. His parents, however, were both journalists and members of a Peronist group opposed to the military, and in their efforts to protect their children, they remained on a different plane, unable to communicate with them fully for fear of endangering them. Dividing the novel into four parts, the author describes his childhood memories in Part I (at least those that he remembers after eight years of heavy drug use in Europe); the disappearance and murder, just two months before his arrival, of a man who worked at a local club and knew his father; his decision to examine his father's personal files and to follow up on his father's investigation into this death and the long history which preceded it; and his discovery of who his father really is and how he is representative of other fathers whose actions and spirit should not be forgotten.
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By mp3 on 17 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book group title. It provided interesting and varied discussion at different levels in our group. Requires some knowledge of the history of the country to derive the most benefit.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 46 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Challenging but rewarding 20 April 2013
By brjoro - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An interesting novel. I was not aware of the author before I read the book. And I confess that my knowledge of Argentina is a top-level understanding. So first off I'd recommend brushing up on your history of Argentina's military dictatorship before picking this up, it will help you understand the story. Additionally, I confess that I read an interview with the author about this novel. Reading his thoughts on what he was trying to convey also helped make this a more interesting read.

With that said, this is a challenging book. A lot of the information is conveyed through (intentionally) badly written newspaper accounts of the main event that drives the narrative of the story. An interesting literary device to be sure. There isn't much in the way of character development here, it's a story of a son coming home to see his dying father and unearthing secrets from his past. A story that has been told before, but Pron is a unique writer, at least based on this book, and he brings something new to this.

So ultimately I'd say that if you enjoy relatively high-minded literary writers, you'll find this pretty compelling. It's not a long book, so it's 'easy' reading in the sense that you can get through it pretty quickly. Again I'd recommend a quick Wikipedia reading on the Argentine dictatorship to help you understand the back story. Pron is a mighty fine writer, I believe this was very well translated, and it's an interesting read. Definitely worth a try if you are looking for something a little different...
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
My Fathers' Ghost is Climbing in the Rain 8 Jun. 2013
By Brendan Moody - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The genius of Patricio Pron's novel, his first to be published in the United States, is that it is at once deeply personal and profoundly political. Based largely on facts from Pron's own life and the lives of his parents, it deals with an Argentinean man who emerges from the memory-deadening haze of psychiatric medications to try to come to terms with his father's identity and history when illness puts the latter's life in jeopardy. Finding a collection of papers relating to the tragic death of a local man, the narrator soon discovers that his father's interest in that case is in its connection to a disappearance during the political turmoil of the 1970s. Anyone with a seriously ill parent might want to understand that parent's life and legacy, but for Argentineans of Pron's generation, the particular mystery of their parents' place in the uncertainty and violence of the Dirty War brings the sense of a generational gap to a whole new level. What makes MY FATHERS' GHOST IS CLIMBING IN THE RAIN so unforgettable (aside from Pron's prose, which cuts right to the heart of the emotional and moral issues that define each of the book's paragraph-long chapters) is this balance between the universal drama of a sick father and the specific political context, creating for American readers a scenario that is at once recognizable and powerful in its strangeness, and calling on Argentineans to come to terms with their own history. This is a taut, powerful book, melancholy but also profoundly forward-looking, and a work of both literary and political significance.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The preface to a greater story 21 May 2013
By TChris - Published on
Format: Hardcover
We are told that the events described in My Father's Ghost is Climbing in the Rain are mostly true. We're also told that the novel's narrator (unnamed in the text, but I'll give him the author's first name since he claims to be telling us his own story) is unreliable. He warns the reader that his words can be taken either as truth or invention since he is incapable of distinguishing one from the other.

Patricio is a journalist who has an uneasy relationship with the truth. Entire years are missing from Patricio's memory, so it's fitting that some chapter numbers are missing from My Father's Ghost -- chapters skipped over, like the chapters of the narrator's life -- while other chapter numbers are out of sequence or repeated, presumably reflecting Patricio's scattered thoughts. Patricio blames the gaps in his life on the medications his psychiatrist was dispensing, drugs that made him feel like he was "floating in a pool without ever seeing its bottom but not being able to reach the surface." The reader soon discovers, however, that Patricio's memory loss is a form of self-protection. Patricio grew up in Argentina, "a country called fear with a flag that was a face filled with dread." The terrors of life during Argentina's rule by a military dictatorship are best forgotten, but the novel is about Patricio's compulsion to remember.

After eight years in Germany, Patricio returns to Argentina to say goodbye to his father, who is languishing in a hospital bed. In his father's study, he finds a folder labeled Alberto Burdisso. Its contents describe a simple-minded man who has disappeared from El Trébol, the city where Patricio spent part of his childhood. Burdisso had been awarded reparations for his sister's disappearance three decades earlier, money that led to his death. As Patricio reads through the file's contents, he learns that the city he believed to be idyllic is in fact sordid, sullied, and sad.

Patricio takes us through the file, document by document. His investigation of the file becomes an attempt to find his father "in his last thoughts." In this, Patricio is like other Argentinians of his generation, solving their parents' pasts like detectives, "and what we were going to find out would seem like a mystery novel we wished we'd never bought." Yet literature is a "pale reflection" of, and cannot do justice to, the beliefs and ideals of his father's generation. In real life, unlike novels -- and particularly in Argentina during the 1970s -- mysteries go unsolved, crimes go unpunished, and the world outside the book is not "guided by the same principles of justice as the tale told inside."

Not surprisingly, in searching for his father Patricio begins to find himself. He comes to realize a truth: "You don't ever want to know certain things because what you know belongs to you, and there are certain things you never want to own." At the same time, he becomes convinced that he needs to tell the story of his father's generation because their ghost "was going to keep climbing in the rain until it took the heavens by storm."

All of this is an excellent premise for a novel. Patricio Pron nearly pulls it off, but in the end, the excellent story he tells is just too slim to attain such a lofty goal. What we learn about the father is fragmentary (intentionally so, given the novel's structure) and superficial. The narrator tells us that "what my parents and their comrades had done didn't deserve to be forgotten," but we learn very little about their struggle. At the same time, Patricio shares few of his recovered memories with the reader. The novel ultimately reads like a preface to a greater story that needs to be told, but it isn't told here.

That isn't to say that I disliked the story Pron tells. There are some stunning sentences in My Father's Ghost, the kind that make you pause and reread them two or three times. Not all of My Father's Ghost works (a series of brief chapters that describe Patricio's fever dreams add nothing to the story), but through most of the novel, Pron's intense prose is riveting. Viewed as a slice of life, the beginning of a journey yet to be completed, this small novel is quite rewarding. If I could, I would give it 4 1/2 stars.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
In Argentina, the Disappeared Will Always Be With Us 6 April 2013
By Robert B. Richey - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is a work of fiction (I think). This book is not exactly historical fiction since the story teller is living in the present as are his parents about whom he talks. The book, however has some real people whose actions in real, historical times did influence the story which is being told. Of these people, the most famous was Juan Perón from my extremely limited awareness of the history of Argentina. Others mentioned in this story that are familiar to me are: Che (Ernesto) Guevara, Eva Perón and Martín Fierro. I think that the person who described this book as a fictional autobiography came the closest to describing what it is. At the start of the book, I was somewhat confused by the style of the story-telling. It was only when I got into the `feel' of the author, that I started to understand the quest of the protagonist as well as his reasons for following the quest for information.

In the end, I was totally enthralled with this author (his first to be published in the United States) and the story that he was trying to tell.

I feel more comfortable with my current understanding of the problems of Argentina's recent history than I have before. That does not mean that I understand that history, but now I do not worry about it. It seems to me, now that in the past, I have been attempting to grasp the post- Perón Argentina through the eyes of standard European stereotypical political structures.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Intriguing, if sometimes ambling, walk through old wounds 17 Jun. 2014
By J. Loscheider - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A struggling young man returns home from an ocean away to see his dying father. The young man is damaged, having been chased across the ocean by echoes of his youth, too dim to recall. As he grudges through the agony of waiting, the hours that pass inside a hospital wing, in the house of his youth, in the halls where he is now a stranger, he paces through an unfinished story his father,a journalist has been writing, and opens a mystery of a wounded land.

I was drawn to this novel because I enjoy surrealist fiction by Juan Rulfo and Jorge Luis Borges, as well as the vanguardismo in works by Cesar Vallejo. While Pron's writing here is not surrealistic, it reminds me very much of Kerouac or Joyce in the stream-of-consciousness flow of the first half of the novel. Told from the narrator's perspective, through the haze of his own neuroses and confusion, the technique makes the work at once intensely intimate even while the narrator pushes us to the edge of the room. His self-obsession with details - indexing, in two separate chapters, the authors and titles of books on his parents shelves, for example - is more than so much navel-gazing. The narrator is beginning to piece back together the damage of youth. He grew up during the Dirty War, a most terrible period in Argentina's history during which the government clamped down on dissent through a campaign of military operations, kidnappings and disappearances, torture and the seizure of land and even children from dissidents. It is these wounds that re-emerge as the narrator discovers a file his father, a journalist, began keeping on a man who lives on the margins of society.

"My Father's Ghost is Climbing in the Rain" is an unusual read that may be frustrating to some because of its pacing but intriguing nonetheless. I enjoyed the read though I felt a little annoyed at some of the slower sections, and the pacing of the second half (mostly reading poorly-written newspaper clips) will require a committed reader to enjoy.
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